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Title: la nostra preghiera
Fandom: DCU
Genre: Tragedy/Gen, AU
Status: Complete
Challenge: [livejournal.com profile] au_bingo
Prompt: Alternate History: Someone died/didn't come back
Word Count: 619
Characters: Bruce Wayne (mentions of Dick Grayson and Tim Drake)
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Character death
Summary: Parents aren't meant to bury their children.

Batman knew death.

He knew before light even faded from his eyes that he had failed his son. Again.

Tim knew it, too. Bruce watched him rush toward Dick, heedless of the threat that Alexander Luthor still posed to them all. Bruce knew the pain that Tim was going through. He had been there, when he had lost his own parents. But he also knew that he could never comprehend the never-ending anguish of letting himself heal over and over just to have more and move loved ones snatched from his grasp.

When the Crisis was over, he had scooped up Dick’s limp body, and had carried his first Robin in his arms until they were back in Gotham, back in the Cave. He had watched Tim withdraw from the corner of his eyes, but had neglected his duty to the young boy in lieu of his own pain.

Now he stood in the Cave, with his back to the table where Dick rested. He stared up into the shadows of his self-tormenting museum, listening to the silence-shattering rustle of wings from the darkness high above. The bats and constant, soft hum of the computer were the only noises in the whole place. Bruce was alone down here, surrounded by the darkness and the dead and the memorials.

He stood surrounded by Batman.

For a long moment, he felt like that eight year old boy, sitting in the street, his hands covered in his mother’s blood. He looked down at his gloves and saw red on them. Now he was covered in Dick’s dried blood.

He made himself turn back to the table. Tenderly, he removed Nightwing’s costume from Dick Grayson’s body. He would have a funeral. The best damn funeral he could have imagined. The best damn memorial stone, and his costume would be suspended forever more next to Jason Todd’s and Barbara Gordon’s. Next to Dick’s own Robin costume.

The first Robin had gotten the first memorial in the cave. Bruce had been hurt, back then, and had thought that he would never have his partner again anyway. Now, he pulled off gloves, boots, weapons. He removed the smoke bombs, the jump lines, the escrima sticks. He laid them all out on the table methodically, organized in perfect little lines. Then he turned back to Dick and painstakingly removed the suit. He made sure that no Kevlar got caught in the bloody wound, and he avoided looking at Dick’s face. With the suit removed, he pulled a sheet out from a cabinet in the medical bay and covered his boy up to his chin. Then he pulled off Batman’s gloves and gently closed Dick’s eyes with his fingers. He looked peaceful.

He had a glass case for all of them. He had known it was only a matter of time before another one of them passed, or could no longer carry on their mantle. He brought one of them out and lined it up with all the others. Robin I, they read, Robin II, Batgirl I, and now Nightwing.

He hung the suit. He sealed it away where it would be safe. Dick would be safe now. Bruce would be sure of it.

Pressing his hand against the glass, he gazed upon the mask, superimposing it over his own reflection. He imagined Dick’s gaze coming from behind it, imagine his smile and quickly shut the thoughts out. He couldn’t think that way anymore. Dick wasn’t going to come back. The fact that Jason somehow had didn’t set a standard. Exceptions made the rule.

Batman knew a great many things. He had been sure to ensure that. He knew pain. He knew statistics, and he knew death.
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scars are tattoos with better stories

July 2011

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